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Native support for USB 3.0 coming
Intel support coming next year, AMD support much sooner

There are a number of notebooks on the market today that have USB 3.0 ports onboard. HP unveiled several new notebooks this week that that have USB 3.0 for example. However, all of the notebooks and desktops on the market today have to use a third-party USB 3.0 controller because AMD and Intel don’t support the standard natively. That is all about to change though.

AMD has announced that it has new chipsets that will be the first to integrated USB 3.0 support. AMD's Phil Hughes told CNET News, "With [today's] announcement AMD is...disclosing our support for SuperSpeed USB 3.0 in upcoming AMD A75 and A70M Fusion [chipsets]. Both chipsets are shipping today."

It has taken long enough for major chipmakers to support USB 3.0 and with this announcement perhaps more companies will start to offer peripherals and gear that takes advantage of the port. There are some products on the market already that support USB 3.0, but nowhere near the vast and varied product types that use USB 2.0.

Analyst Brian O'Rourke from In-Stat said, "In order for the rippling effect to happen with USB 3.0 it has to hit in PCs and for it to hit in PCs it has to be integrated into the chipset. AMD is not Intel, but it's probably the next best thing in chipsets."  He continued saying, "The only peripheral devices with USB 3.0 out there right now are external hard drives and a few flash drives. Why? There aren't any peripheral controllers for USB 3.0 in general release yet. Not any out there on the market yet."

While AMD has its chipsets shipping already with support for USB 3.0, support from AMD rival Intel is still a ways off. Intel has been pushing support for Thunderbolt along with Apple and a few other companies. Thunderbolt is positioned by Intel as a complement to USB 3.0; not a replacement.

Intel has now announced that support for both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt will come in the same chipsets sometime in 2012. Native support for Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 will land in the Intel Ivy Bridge chipset.

Intel currently offers support for USB 3.0 in some of its desktop mainboards, but that support comes by way of the NEC USB 3.0 chips.



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RE: I'm confused at this point.
By quiksilvr on 4/14/2011 4:28:47 PM , Rating: 2
Other companies are already on board for Thunderbolt and are going to get it. What do you need USB 3.0 for in a keyboard and mouse? The only real application is data speed which eSATA/USB ports do fine (yes, they combined the two connections into one port, so you can just have a row of eSATA/USB ports).


RE: I'm confused at this point.
By DanNeely on 4/14/2011 5:11:14 PM , Rating: 2
The limiting factor for eSata/USB ports is that you need a sata controller port for each one. Even with the much higher number of sata ports intel's going to be putting on their LGA 2011 controllers making all ports esata/usb isn't going to be practical while also having the obligatorily excessive number of on board connectors. The other half of the story is that although the combined port has been out for a while it's gotten little or no support from external HD makers, which is a pity since combined cables would allow for eSata drives to be used without a powerbrick.


RE: I'm confused at this point.
By vol7ron on 4/15/2011 1:26:06 AM , Rating: 2
There were several reasons why USB prevailed, but they both have a lot of differences. Initially, I don't think eSATAp was there, so eSATA devices needed to be powered externally. Now they can be powered by the PC, which is a big factor. There are also differences in the power draw, cord length specifications, and the sheer universalism of the devices.

I also think that eSATA took some performance away from the PCIe channels. I know that the early USB3.0 boards that vendors released did that - they hooked into the PCI bus to achieve the USB3 speeds.

One thing is certain. Manufacturers are not going to make/sell a product that consumers can't use. Why make a USB3.0 device, that cant take advantage of the 3.0? The ports have to be in place before the vendors make something available.

High speed ports have a lot of usage, NAS/Backup Storage, Video Transfer (webcam/point-and-shoot camers/handycams), flash drives, printers, phone/pda-docs.


RE: I'm confused at this point.
By DanNeely on 4/15/2011 1:59:19 PM , Rating: 2
eSata only consumed PCIe resources if it was on a high end enthusiast board where it was connected to a 2nd SATA controller the mobo maker added to increase the total port count. Lower end boards that only used the ports in the southbridge would have zero impact on the availability of PCIe for anything else.


RE: I'm confused at this point.
By vol7ron on 4/18/2011 12:14:51 AM , Rating: 2
That might be true, but that would mean they were only operating at a fraction of the theoretical throughput.


"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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